During most of my childhood in the 1950’s, businesses rewarded shoppers with “green stamps.” Pictured above, they came in long strips depending on the amount of your purchase. They had a glue backing and were licked and pasted into books. My mother couldn’t stand pasting them in the books, so they piled up. When we complained about boredom (a perilous complaint in our house!) we would be offered the task of licking the green stamps and putting them in their books.
With four kids we did a lot of business with the local pharmacy which was the source of many stamps. The grocery store gave them out as did the gas station. Most businesses proudly displayed the “we give green stamps” sign hoping it would draw you in. What exactly was the appeal that would convince anyone to save and then lick hundreds of these little stamps?
The reward came in what you could “buy” with filled books of stamps. As usual, my brother and I aimed big when we looked at the catalog. For a billion(or so it seemed) stamps, we could each get new bicycles. Or maybe some extravagant toy set. Unfortunately, as soon as we had filled the books, my mother took a keen interest in what she could get in exchange. So we ended up with picnic jugs, a coffee pot and a toaster. Oh well. At least they were free (if you ignored the child labor!)